By about 2:50pm today, I figured Bonzi Wells would be the biggest name to change teams today (Von Wafer excepted), and needless to say, I was wrong. Whether Cleveland’s bold acquisition of Ben Wallace is a result of LeBron’s lobbying/grousing or just another case of Dan Gilbert’s Detroit fixation, I can’t say for certain. But I do know Cleveland have relinquished Larry Hughes in favor of the truculent Big Ben, with the latter playing like he lost interest from the moment he arrived in Chicago. The Sun-Times’ Greg Couch can hardly believe it, writing that Bulls GM John Paxson “has done the impossible, he has dumped Wallace on a poor sucker.”
I like the trade. It involves three teams, but the bulk of it, the Bulls part, is this: Joe Smith _ not an alias, but his real name ” and Wallace went to Cleveland. The Bulls get power forward Drew Gooden and shooting shooting guard Larry Hughes.
That “shooting shooting” thing was no mistake. Hughes likes to shoot shoot so much that saying it once doesn™t feel as if it covers it.
Gooden can help with post offense ” yes, there is such a thing ” though he will block Tyrus Thomas™ playing time. Hughes and Ben Gordon are the same player. And without Smith, no one can cover any other team™s center.
So it™s not perfect. But it is a sign that Paxson is finally feeling the desperation we™ve been wanting him to feel for over a year now. Ever since the Bulls signed Wallace, in fact.
Wallace goes down as one of the biggest busts in Bulls history. And the Bulls are still a long and unfathomable distance from being any good.
But the best part about this deal is that Trader John didn™t seem frozen for once.
By contrast, Brian Windhorst gives the trade a qualified thumbs-up.
One of the things being talked about within the Cavs front office over the last few days was the need to get someone in here to deal with potential matchups with the Celtics in the playoffs. Wallace could be that guy. He also gives them an edge in dealing with the Pistons as well. Wally Szczerbiak is guy who is the type of player that works well with LeBron, he™s a shooter, although he™s had injury problems. Cavs are taking on some huge salary here, but they are not really extending their commitments. Wallace is signed for two more years (like Hughes) and Smith and Szczerbiak will have expiring contracts next season. West will be a restricted free agent.
To me the key here is just what Wallace brings. He™s not the player he was in Detroit, I think most people agree with that. But can he be a major defensive presence, especially come the playoffs. To me that will define this deal.
While Da Bulls have acted decisively (today, anyway) to try and repair an absolute mess, you’ll note the trade deadline came and went this afternoon without Eddy Curry or Zach Randolph being traded. And incredibly, Isiah Thomas couldn’t find a taker for Stephon Marbury’s expiring 2008-09 contract.
On the other hand, perhaps it was only a cellular phone outage that prevented Zeke from trading all three players plus a succession of draft picks for Vince Carter.